Rancho Mondo logo

rancho mondo

how to compost manual

The Batch Method of Waste Management

It is best to accumulate enough materials to construct a compost pile all at one time, rather than adding new materials as they become available.  This keeps odors down to a minimum, and helps produce a finished product that is more uniformly decomposed.  With this method, the materials are composted in batches.  This means the materials must be stored until ready for use.  The storage of the materials high in carbon is relatively easy.  They are generally dry, and contain so little nitrogen that they don't easily start to rot by themselves.  It helps if you keep these dry materials dry by covering with a tarp to exclude the rain, but it isn't strictly necessary.  If you have another composter unit, you can use one of the bins to store materials for future use, and use the other bin for temporary storage of finished compost ... or start another pile.  If no other unit is available, just rake the dry materials into a pile at a convenient location (hopefully near the composter), and cover.


The storage of materials high in nitrogen present more of a problem.  They often create smells, attracting flies and other pests.  The best way to store these materials that I have encountered, is to store them in a container covered with sawdust or crushed leaves to absorb the excess moisture and odor (some sources of 5 gal. containers include; restaurants, paint and drywall contractors, etc.; or you can use a larger plastic trashcan w /lid).   You put a 3" layer of absorbent material on the bottom, put your kitchen wastes over this as you accumulate them, covering with more absorbent material as often as necessary to control odor (pack it down tightly, and be sure to keep the lid on).  When nearly full, cover with at least 3" more of sawdust or crushed leaves, and set near the pile to await accumulation of enough material.

If kitchen wastes are to be the primary source of nitrogen in your compost pile, you will need to accumulate maybe two 30 gal. trashcans of material to make 1 cu.yd. of compost.  You will be surprised at how quickly a small family can generate this much kitchen wastes.  If you can get some manure, you can be ready to start a pile even more quickly.  The only drawback to this plan is that the materials are sure to go anaerobic ... this mainly means that when you use them to make your compost, they will be fairly strong in odor; so I always wait until a windy day to put my ingredients together.  Don't worry about the pile itself going anaerobic.  If you follow the instructions on Making and Managing the compost pile, when the oxygen becomes available, the anaerobic microorganisms will die and aerobic ones will take their place.  This is how I do it, but you can come to your own decisions on how best to manage your wastes for your environment.

< Managing a Compost Pile   —   Table of Contents   —   Use When Done >